A flash flood unleashed by a major thunderstorm has inundated the Austrian village of Hallstatt, which has been awarded special status by the U.N. because of its unique beauty.

Wednesday's storm turned the placid village creek into a torrent that flooded the village square, tearing up cobble stones in its wake. Houses and a hotel are partially under water. State-run broadcaster ORF says 30 people had to be evacuated by ladder from the first floor of a building.

"Mud came from all sides," says hotel owner Monika Wenger. "We had to bring our guests to the first floor."

Huddled next to an Alpine lake, the village is one of Austria's tourist attractions. The U.N. Educational Scientific and Culture Organization has named it one of its heritage sites.